Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dreamin' and wishing for more TIME!

Ahhh! So it's been a while since I've had anything to add on here, and well, I still am being quite neglectful both to my blogging and to my garden. Actually though, and I never thought I would be saying this, I am feeling very ANXIOUS to get back over to my apartment to check on my plants. I haven't seen them in over a week and I have no idea if they're dying, or what... It's almost killing me actually.

We still have some work to do over there to the house, so I'll be over there to check on them, hopefully tomorrow. For today, I hope to at least pick up a bag or two of compost and lime to revitalize the soil underneath the pine tree at our new house (it's dry, sandy and grass-less). I'm hoping to put my hostas under there, though I'd almost prefer to put them up against the house if we could get rid of the ugly blue cypress trees growing there. I did contemplate sawing them down, just not sure how heavy they really are, and they're kind of spiky. Anyway, I was happy to discover that I have an abundance of shade-loving, acid-tolerating plants already at the apartment, that I can bring over to our new house and plant under the huge ugly pine. The only thing that worries me there is that we may be chopping said pine down, and then I'd have to move the garden again just when the plants are starting to get established.
Anyway, I am feeling a slight sense of impatience as I would absolutely love to be growing some of my own edibles in our new back yard this year, but I've missed the planting season. Though I do wonder if perhaps I could pick up a couple pumpkin vines at least from a nursery to put into the vacant bed in the back yard (though I'd have to clean it out first, it's overgrown with weeds and I've been using it as a branch/leaf dumping ground as I pruned the various overgrown trees we have).
I guess maybe for this year I'll have to just accept that I'll be buying from the farmers markets instead of growing my own, but next year, I'll hopefully have a garden with: Corn, Pumpkins, Tomatoes, Hot Peppers, Rhubarb, Sunflowers, Blackberries, Basil, Lemon Basil, Thyme, Oregano, Tarragon, Peppermint, Spearmint, Dill, Borage, Parsely, Lavendar (lots of it!), Catnip,
English Ivy, Wild Grapes, Hostas, Hollyhocks, Peonies, Hellebores, Hardy Geraniums, Roses, Clematis, Periwinkle, Irises, Gardenia, Day Lillies, Ferns, Forget-Me-Nots and perhaps a Holly bush... :) It's nice to dream anyway.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Summer solstice

Well, just as I am getting ready to leave, a whole wack of new 'neighbours' are moving into my garden... I have two Northern Flicker woodpeckers, who have made a home for themselves in our maple tree. A branch came down recently and it turns out that carpener ants or some sort of beetle has infested our beautiful maple and has started to kill some of its boughs. The good thing about this is that the remaining dead trunk at the top of the tree has provided the birds ample space to make a little nest hole, and they're busily clearing the tree of all the evil parasites that are causing it to fall down. So a win-win for my garden I think. :) I also had a bluejay come today, just before a thunderstorm, and he tried to scope out the woodpeckers' hole. Lucky for him he decided against it because the male returned home about two minutes after the Jay left, to take shelter just before it rained (and Cricket and I did shortly afterward as it started to pour right after the thunder rolled above us)...
We're coming up on summer solstice, and, as I have read, this is a holiday to celebrate nature's abundance. I do have to say that this year has been a rewarding year so far in that all my plants that were transplanted to their new homes last year (and in a couple cases, two summer's ago), have started to flourish again (just before I have to move them again). My rose buds are opening, my peonies, while they have no flowers this year, are big and bushy looking, my wild and upright thymes are speading like wildfire, and my lovage is taller than I am (must figure out what you actually do with this herb)... Even my gardenia, which I thought was never going to make it, as started to sprout fresh new leaves. Other plants will probably benefit from the move because my new yard offers a lot more sun, whereas our current yard is very shady. So my mints, lavendar, basil and lillies will probably be happier (and bigger).

Another flower I intend to plant more of is allium - I planted a few purple ones last year (and it's a shame I let two of the bulbs die because I couldn't think of where to plant them). They opened up into beautiful big flowers. I'll have to post pictures later, as I've lost my cord for the camera... :(

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Sweet smell of Spring

So things have been crazy busy in my life lately - with my job, (and possibly a couple more contracts on the go at the same time), getting ready for the new house (ie: stressing over money), attempting to offload some vehicles (getting expensive), and making appointments for potential tenants to come see our apartment, there haven't been too many nights where I've found the time to sit and relax. (For this reason, I am not including a picture with this post as I'm, quite frankly, too tired to go take any and upload them at the moment). :) That being said, I did manage to tear myself away from my work tonight long enough to take Cricket outside into the back yard, with a glass of iced tea, and put my very tired and sore feet in the cool grass.

I sat for a while, but eventually curiosity got the best of me and I got up to snoop around my gardens to see how things are doing. (Unfortunately, this prompted an 'accident' - where I dragged the hose over some new alliums, breaking their leaves... :( ) On a positive side, I found one of my hostas (I am suspecting the other will never re-appear). It's the blue one, and it's now about five inches tall and starting to unfurl itself. I'm excited. :)

Also, my herbs are looking strong and full, which is equally (if not more) exciting - I'm hoping they'll survive the move to Aylmer in a month...

Anyway, in addition to the warm evening and lush cool grass, and my soft cute kitty enjoying it all with me, I also took great pleasure in the smells outside tonight. Our black cherry tree in the front is in full blossom - and even one of the people who came to see the apartment remarked on what a marvellous 'smell' there was in the front yard. Also, I couldn't resist plucking off a few pieces of fresh lavendar and crushing it in my hands. Absolutely gorgeous scent - I definitely want an entire bed dedicated to lavendar in the new place, because I'll finally have the sunshine required to grow it. :) The best is that it starts as a crisp, almost evergreen scent, then as your hands warm it, it starts to transform into more of a lavendar soap smell, and finally releases a sweet scent that reminds me of my favorite incense (nag champa)...

I still have to find out what kind of tree is over on the corner of my street. (I wonder if it's a Linden?) Luc and I were on our evening walk the other day and I happened to stop yacking long enough to catch a beautiful fresh, almost citrussy scent floating on the breeze. It was quite a strong scent too, so when I tried to smell the blossoms dangling over my head (on that tree), I wasn't able to tell if they were producing the scent, or if it was enveloping everything. Now I'll have to investigate - it'd be nice to replace the scraggly pine and cedars at our new place with something a little more 'sightly'.

Anyway, I do have to say, I'm so glad I discovered a love of plants and outdoors - there is no better remedy to a stressful life than taking a few moments to just sit and watch the awesome things going on in your own back yard - I highly recommend all of us crazy city people grow a garden, just for that reason. :)


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Well, seeing as I have not yet had a chance to transplant my flowers into the ground (there was a risk of frost last night), I will instead write a quick note about bees... Why not eh? :)
Yesterday, I found a bee inside my house, sitting on the floor by the patio door. He seemed a little stunned actually, and barely moved when I placed a drinking glass over him to transport him outside. In light of the recent news stories about bumble bees (and the threat of their extinction in Europe), I am trying to be very careful about not disturbing any of my two-toned buddies in our yard. Come to think of it though, I've never been really afraid of bumble bees - they're so fat and fuzzy, and slow moving, that it doesn't strike the same fear into my heart that a wasp (evil things) does when it buzzes around me. Anyway, according to some articles I read today on the bumble bee problem overseas, it seems that farming is killing them off. Kind of interesting to hear that farming, which to me always seemed like a nice 'back to the land', natural way of life (like the opposite to the industrial crap that is destroying our Earth), is actually hurting our environment. Not only does it kill the bees (in the UK, for example, they talk of how large farms are wiping out natural grasses and flowers, in favour of growing more sterile products like rye grasses for the market), it also harms local plants. As the article I read suggests, the absence of bees means pollen isn't being transported from flower to flower, and in turn, may mean an end to many wild flowers and trees that depend upon this method to reproduce. Also, I have read before that farming of course wipes out natural habitats for many species of insects, birds and animals, and the worst part is that nowadays the crops these gigantic farms are growing often aren't natural - they're all ramped up on 'plant roids' so to speak, which throws things out of balance. Plus, there are varieties of crops that don't reseed themselves (as an effort to control the market and force farmers to pay for seeds each year). It's like replacing forests with plastic trees, they wouldn't re-seed themselves, so every time you cut them down (this is silly but anyway) you'd have to put more plastic trees there as you would have wiped out all the natural plants when you cleared your 'fields'. It all ties back into what I was writing in my other blog about using heirloom seeds in your garden (to help preserve some of the older, sustainable plants that were grown by people for generations here - instead of all these crazy chemical-dependent, disease intolerant, oversized plants that the scientists are cooking up in their labs. (As a side-note, if you're looking for an interesting debate - check out the one over genetically modified foods. I'm actually confused and want to do some more research as I've heard two conflicting things about new crops - some things I've read say they're more dependent upon pesticides and less disease tolerant, while the other side says they're hardier because they've been genetically engineered to withstand certain natural threats they would have otherwise fallen prey to - either way, I hear it's not a certifiably 'healthy' choice and it's been known to kill insects (like the monarch butterflies that died from the pollen found in GM corn...))... Since, it's summer, go find yourself some locally grown crops (markets and roadside stands are fun :) ) - they taste better anyway!

Anyway, I'm way off track, I just had to say I was happy to hear that Luc saw my bee buzzing around in the back yard after I brought him outside. :) So next time you see a bee, remember that, because of him, you'll have pretty flowers growing in your area - so don't kill him! :)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Springtime in my garden :)

Well, after long days and nights of waiting and wishing, Spring has finally decided to grace us with her presence - and hopefully for good this time! I managed to shrug off the snow a couple times throughout April, if it happens in May, I'm moving South. :(

Anyway, so I was puttering around a bit in the backyard today, just having a look at what's appearing, and was pleasantly surprised to find that my herbs that were wintered outside survived and seem to be growing much better this year (they were transplanted to their new 'home' here last summer). The sad part is that I will want to take all or a portion of them with me when we move in July and I'm not sure how well they'll handle it... I have to say, I love my current yard. It's small and dark and woodsy - surrounded by ever-green hedges that have largely been left uncared for (I try to prune the spots I can reach). It gives it a sort of 'woodland garden' feel, that I hope I can at least partly recreate at our new home in Aylmer.
So far my old fashioned roses are doing better where I moved them (which is a relief), the orange lillies are insane (I tried thinning them but I can barely keep up!). One great thing about them is you really can't kill them - I had pulled a huge pile of them out of the ground and left them at the side of the house in a heap on top of the ground. About three weeks later, Luc put up the last section of fence, and I thought it needed something, so I rescued them from the 'heap' and planted them and they're all doing fine (just a bit smaller than their 'cousins' that didn't get ripped out by the black thumb of death ;) ). Anyway, I planted day lillies in the back yard, recommended (and purchased) by a friend, but I don't seem to be having the same luck with them. Maybe I left it too long to plant them, or maybe I planted them upside down (I think I did for at least a few of them). So we'll see what happens with that. If they do come up, I want to take them with me to the new place - they cost a whopping $60!
So other investigating revealed that my mint has escaped its underground container (rascally mint) and is slowly taking up a spot in the side garden but that's fine. Not much else is growing there yet anyway. I planted two hostas in the fall and haven't seen either of them at all. I read somewhere that the earth worms may be to blame - I think I am overrun with them - every time I pull out a weed, or turn a shovel of earth there are like four or five of them crawling around.
I also have an evergreen ground cover (that I keep forgetting the name of) that produces little purple flowers in Spring and early Summer. I'll want to bring a sprig or two of it with me to the new place because it stays green and I love using it in my wreaths.
I also transplanted some ferns from the side of the house over to the shady side garden again this year - last year I did it in the middle of summer (learned my lesson as they all died). This time they're taking to their new spot very well, so that should help fill in some of the baldness over there too. Also I was excited (I have a very uneventful life) to find my wild thyme has really spread itself out! Running my fingers over the tops of the leaves produced a beautiful smell, I love it.
So what else? My lavendar, (pictured here), isn't looking too hot, but it hates where I planted it, which was the sunniest spot I have and only gets a few hours of morning sun. I will be moving it to a sandier, sunnier location at the new place. My herbs, despite having about four inches of sand and gravel dumped on them from the contractors doing work next door, are flourishing, again much better than last year. My lovage is huge, I have a nice patch of oregano starting, chives, and a bit of thyme and tarrigon too. No sign of the dill but maybe it wasn't perrenial - I know nothing about it, just put it in the ground (and way too late) last year. Now that I'll have room for a proper garden, I plan to have a much bigger patch, I LOVE dill.
This is my oregano:

Cricket's helping weed... Or mow the lawn..
Anyway, I'm excited for what new possibilities will arise once I have SUNLIGHT in my new yard!!
For now I need sleep. Happy Spring!!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Pretty Blooms for Spring

Since Spring is almost here, I took some pictures of pretty, fresh looking plants I have around the house right now. I was lucky to inherit a begonia (Laura if you read this, I will replace yours sorry girl!) because my cousin accidentally left it on my kitchen table, so it's now enjoying its new home in my kitchen.

My new Cyclamen seems relatively happy, though some of the blooms are starting to wilt (I'm hoping that's because they were already fully open when I bought the plant, and not due to cold drafty air or anything). My other Cyclamen isn't looking so hot these days (the on who got the 'shower') but I think that may have to do with the amount of water sitting in the soil right now. There's no drainage hole in the pot it's in, just some gravel at the bottom, and the soil is still very damp to the touch, two weeks after I gave it its 'shower'. My other plant is thriving because it likes to have very damp soil. I'm hoping I haven't killed my Cyclamen though or something.. Maybe I'll move it into a pot with drainage holes for now.

My seedlings are coming along alright, hopefully they'll beef up a bit because they're currently really stringy. I think I'll have to get them a grow light.
Maybe I'll do that this weekend when I'm at the Ottawa Spring Home and Garden Show!! Woohoo!! Can't wait! :)

Saturday, March 10, 2007